Monday, August 20, 2012

Getting the Word Out

When you self-publish a book - as I did with Cusp - you take on all the responsibilities of publisher as well as author: from cover design to distribution to marketing. Since the book came out in May, I have been on the latter end of that demanding ride, getting the word out. I hired a publicist, who got the book great coverage including some reviews. I got it into some local bookstores (Chevaliers, Vroman's and Diesel Malibu) and encouraged readers to review it on Amazon. And I started churning out the copy for social media.

I do social media marketing for a living, so I know all about the importance of blogging, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, YouTube, and on and on ad infinitum. I've written more than 100 posts on this site. I've uploaded pictures, linked to several radio interviews, tweeted and pinned. It's exhausting - not unlike writing a book!

And now, after three months, I need to move on. I need to focus on writing something new rather than flogging what's already done.

Writers - especially this writer - can be excellent procrastinators. "I'll get back to my manuscript as soon as I check my email...make dinner...write those tweets for my Phyllis Diller's obit...listen to Alec Baldwin interview Billy Joel...finish up this week's 'Song of the Day' features for"

I hereby vow to get back to my manuscript. You'll still hear from me from time to time, and not just when an artist mentioned in the book dies. I'll still blog and tweet and pin and post (and check my email, make dinner, work and procrastinate). But mostly I'll be concentrating on what's next, not what's done.



Cusp Song of the Day: San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)

When I had to pick a song for Cusp to personify the year 1967, I chose "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)." Written to promote the Monterey Pop Festival that year, the song was a top 10 hit during the summer of 1967. Its mellow tune and "Summer of Love" lyrics perfectly capture a time and place. "San Francisco" was written and produced by John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas, and performed by Scott McKenzie, who died this weekend at 73. 

McKenzie dropped out of the music business after the release of his second album in 1970, although he later co-wrote "Kokomo" for the Beach Boys.

In Cusp, Mark throws a 1967 theme party, and his neighbor Eric invites Karen and Gwen, his amusement park co-workers. They're unclear on the concept - 1967 was just eight years earlier and why would anyone want to relive fourth grade? Eric makes the case:

“'Hearken back to yesteryear! It was the Summer of Love!' Eric bellows, before breaking into a few notes of 'San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair).' 'You’re not supposed to relive it like it really was for you, it’s like a chance for you to be eighteen and have it be 1967.'"

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cusp Song of the Day: Fly, Robin, Fly

God, how I hated "Fly, Robin, Fly." In Cusp I call it " the “Horse with No Name” of dance music," about the worst insult I could give. Yet somehow the song insinuated itself onto the pop charts for more than three months at the end of 1975/beginning of 1976, driving me progressively more frustrated by its success. It even spent three weeks at number 1 on both the pop and dance charts. Grrr.

Here are the lyrics in their entirety: "Fly Robin fly, up up to the sky." That's it. Repeat until insanity is achieved. The lyrics are so inconsequential that the song actually won a Grammy for best R&B Instrumental.

The song is by two-hit wonder Silver Convention, a German group ironically featuring three female vocalists. (The irony is due to Cusp's emphasis of a better-known group with three female vocalists, the Supremes.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cusp Song of the Day: Doctor’s Orders

"Doctor’s Orders" by Carol Douglas was an early 1975 disco hit. Douglas, who was Sam Cooke's cousin and the daughter of Minnie the Moocher (her mother, Minnie Newsome, was a jazz singer who inspired Cab Calloway's song), hit number 11 on the pop charts and number 1 on the newly instituted disco chart with the song.

Despite Douglas' lack of significant later success, she does a great job with "Doctor's Orders," which was undeniably an influential track. Credit must go to producer Domenico Monardo, also known as Meco, the man to blame for 1977's rightfully despised (yet frighteningly successful) disco version of the "Star Wars Theme." I didn't want to provide a link to that atrocity, but in the "read it and weep" tradition, here it is, a painful and shameful '70s flashback. Click if you dare!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cusp Song of the Day: Our Day Will Come

In November 1975, Frankie Valli came within one chart position of the top 10 with "Our Day Will Come," a cover of the 1963 Ruby and the Romantics song also recorded over the years by Doris Day, the Carpenters, k.d. lang, Christina Aguilera, Amy Winehouse and Katherine McPhee on Smash earlier this year. Even the Supremes recorded it, in 1965, one of Mary Wilson's few Diana Ross-era leads. (It was not released until 40 years later, on the shelved album There's a Place for Us.) The song was composed by Bob Hilliard and Mort Garson, who surely made a fortune on it over the past 50 years.
Valli's version features Patti Austin and hits just the right balance - not too slow, not too disco-y. It's the title of Cusp's Chapter 11 and appears twice in the book: once in the diner where Karen, Mark and Craig are talking about being gay and whether, as Craig confidently puts it, "Anybody can be had.” Karen, annoyed, feels he's trying to "recruit" Mark. “You sound awfully sure of yourself,” she says, but he just shrugs and drops a dime to play "Our Day Will Come."

Later, after a New Year's Eve debacle, the song comes on the radio and reminds Karen of its earlier airing: "I can’t take the radio any more. 'Our Day Will Come' almost did me in. I prefer to program my own despair."